NEW LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) - At first glance, it's something many would barely notice, but for one woman it's become a crusade.
"I just want them gone," says Kela Baker.
What has Baker so fired up is the ashtray outside Dixie Middle School where her son goes. It's located right next to a bike rack and Kela showed us pictures of how it's become a hangout spot for kids after school.
She thinks it's sending the wrong message.
"It's such a crucial time," Baker says. "It's usually when kids pick up smoking as a habit and it carries on into adulthood. It's really disgraceful."
In fact Kela showed 2 NEWS how easy it is to get to the cigarettes inside by unscrewing the ashtray's base, something she says she's watched two kids do over the past few months.
"The one boy I yelled at him to put it back, it was gross and disgusting," Baker says.
2 NEWS talked to school superintendent Barbara Curry over the phone because she was out of the district Wednesday.
She says she's not aware of any students smoking the leftover cigarettes.
She explained that the ashtray is not used by staff members but instead is there for parents who come to after school activities and meant to keep the area clear of cigarette butts.
Still some think there's a better solution.
"If we have adults who smoke they should put the disposal not where kids can reach it," says Betty Watkins, who has grandkids in the district.
Adds Baker, "Keep your butt at home. Don't bring it here. Don't influence our kids in a wrong way."
According to Ohio law, smoking is not allowed in school buildings, but outside the school is another story.
The Ohio Board of Education recommends making all school grounds smoke free but the decision is left to each individual school district.
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